Carrier WiFi

Trapeze Swings Again

Enterprise wireless LAN startup Trapeze Networks Inc. today unveiled what the company is calling the "first major upgrade" of its switch products and management software, nearly a year after its initial launch.

Trapeze has added two new switches to its hardware lineup -- aimed at data center and branch office implementations -- and upgraded its system so that it is better able to support other vendors' access points.

The firm has also updated its Ringmaster site survey software, which may just be the most popular part of the entire package if comments from users at the recent Unstrung Live seminars are anything to go by. Now the techies that set up and run Trapeze wireless LAN networks can get a graphical representation of the radio signals in -- woohoo! -- 3D.

What this means is that IT staff can now see if the signals from their networks will go through floors and ceilings -- as well as horizontal walls -- into other companies' buildings and so can throttle the access point radios back to stop that happening.

The new hardware includes an eight-port switch, with the catchy moniker of the MX-8, which is aimed at customers wanting to install the distributed technology in remote and branch offices. The new MX-400 has 100 ports for customers that want to run a centralized network off a single box in the data center. Dan Simone, VP of product marketing and worldwide marketing, sees initial customers using the MX-400 and then moving to a more distributed system as the network grows.

Some of the new features added to the Trapeze system have already been introduced by Trapeze's main startup rivals in the enterprise WiFi market: Airespace Inc. and Aruba Wireless Networks.

These features include the branch office switch and the ability to connect Trapeze APs back to its switch over a Layer 3 connection without actually being directly connected to the box. (Those features are, like, so 2003,dude.)

But Trapeze has beefed up its site survey tool with its aforementioned 3D capabilities and added "profiles" of third-party enterprise access points, so that they can be more accurately modeled on the site map.

Analysts are still split on which particular company is winning in the switch startup category. Chris Kozup of the Meta Group Inc. told Unstrung recently that he thought Airespace has "moved out in front of the rest" because of its high-profile OEM deals this month (see Alcatel & Nortel Push VOWLAN).

Craig Mathias, with analyst and consulting firm Farpoint Group, disagrees, saying: "It's still too early to tell."

Certainly Trapeze is still bullish, with Simone promising to unveil new customers soon.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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